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ALIF One night stay?

spinedsspined Posts: 10
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:58 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I delayed my ALIF due to bronchitis three days pre-op.

My surgeon says that I'll have surgery mid day and be discharged the next afternoon. He says full return to travel activities in 4 weeks.

I fly every week somewhere.

The horror stories I read on this board have made me reconsider this whole thing.

I was up an about after total hip replacement surgery in no time. Back to work in 4 weeks. Off pain meds in 6 weeks.

All I read on here is about four days in the hospital and months of pain, and inability to sit for any length of time.
HAs anyone ever had an ALIf that went well?

L3-L4 Laminectomy micro-discectomy 2008
ALIF L5-S1 2012
Facet Joint Ablation L2 to S1 2012
Facet Joint Ablation. L2 to S1 2015


  • This is why I'm beginning to really dislike reading this forum. (Yes, I know I have a choice, nobody need tell me to leave.)

    spined, I'm a surgical nurse who's had both a 3-level ACDF with hemicorpectomies and a 3-level lumbar fusion. Yes, there are PLENTY of people with positive experiences. Please keep in mind that most (but not all) of the people who post here feel that their surgeries were failures and so look to commiserate and empathize with others in the same situation. Understandable, but not helpful to people in your situation who may look upon their experiences as common, and their opinions as fact.

    Please discuss your fears with your doctor. Go have a second opinion, just because it's the prudent thing to do, but also to see if there are alternatives available.

    Feel free to send me a personal message (PM) if I can be of any help. Please don't let your experience reading on this site be the deciding factor in making important decisions about your health.

    Best wishes!
  • your surgeon is clue less ALIF is massive and recovery is months and even years !! as for 4 weeks he doesn't know what he is talking about ..my consultant {one of the uk's best} told me it will take around 7 hours to do the ALIF and 2 weeks in hospital and at least 2 years to recover ..proceed with caution if you intend to use your man !!
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • Tony, that is a very strong statement you made.

    Spined, you do have to be careful what you read, just like babybubbles said. I would suspect that possibly Tony is having more work done than you are, or there is some extraordinary circumstance that his doctor is telling him 2 weeks in hospital and 2 years recovery.

    It does take a long time to make a complete recovery, but many people get back to work and living their lives fairly quick after these surgeries. Every patient has different circumstances. Listen to your doctor. Get another opinion if you are concerned.

    When is your surgery?

    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • Hi,

    I have had 3 fusions, the first 2 were 5 days in the hospital and I returned to work after 3 weeks. The 3rd one the disc was removed and a spacer put in so i had a little more post operative pain. I chose to take 6 weeks off. The total recovery is years to get back to where you were. It takes a lot of work and PT and stretching and core work.

    I am happy with all my fusions as they fixed what was at that time wrong with my back. I tried cortisone, rhyzotomies, accupuncture, just about everything before I resorted to surgery. It was the only thing that worked.

    Good luck on your decision. There are success stories but it is a serious operation with a long recovery.

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • Tony,
    You make some of the most idiotic statements I have read on this forum. Just because your back is trashed and your surgery will take a long time with a long recovery. It doesn't mean that is how EVERYONE else goes.

    My surgeon told me the same thing that Spined was told. I did exactly that! So stop making rash stupid statements!

    I had an AxiaLIF done. That is bolt from the bottom up into my tail bone through S1-L5. Then cut in the back to install 4 screws and 2 rods. I went at 7am and did my sign in. In the OR by 9am. In my room by lunch time. Slept all afternoon. Got up at supper time. It hurt like hell getting up. But I went and peed (standing up) and then walked the hall with the nurse. Ate a little. Napped. Then walked again a couple more times that night. In the morning I got checked by nurses, surgeon, bandages changed, cleaned up, discharged late morning. I was back at work in 4 weeks. It wasn't fun but I did it. I did PT for 6 months in various forms. It took 2 years for the fusion to fully fuse and give me very little issues.

    You can do it! Flying will suck. I can promise you that. I refused travel for 6 months after surgery. Even in the car for a couple of hours hurt. In a plane you're stuck. You do not want to fly cross country. You will be hurting for sure.

  • for each person is different - as various posts have shown, some people are back at work in a few weeks, and for others it's months, so you yourself will be the best judge of when you're ready to resume working, especially when it comes to flying, where there's limited space for walking and reclining. How does your GP feel about it?

    Best wishes!
  • I am having a 2 level ALIF Wednesday the 7th and if I went on everything on here I would be a nervous wreak, there is good info here but, reguarding the actual operation, everyone is a little different.
    My doctors are telling me the sugery will be around 1.5 to 2 hours and 12 hours from the start of the surgery they will have me up and walking, after I have me steak for dinner. The general surgon has done the ALIF over 1200 times and the doctor doing the fusion is probabably one of the best in the US. I was very afraid of what the future would hold but after my pre-op and visit with the general surgon what mad me feel the best was a 75yr old that had the same sugery 6 months ago, he told me it is like he was born again and was walking around better than I was. the key here is talk to your doctor and the support staff, they know what they are doing and in some cases my know your body better than you do.

    I am anxious and nervous but I am confident that I will do great because of the support staff I have.

  • Your post made me smile. :)

    Keep your head up, and my very best wishes for a successful and uneventful surgery!
  • I had a double lumbar fusion L4-S1 and I was out the same day. I thought my surgeon was joking when he told me it would be outpatient because of what I had read here and there and everywhere...truth is I did just fine at home if not better because I was, well, home.

    I can say, that for me, I would not have been able to travel 4 weeks post-op. But that's just me and what my personal tolerance was after the surgery. I had a lot of trouble sitting because my hips were out of line. It varies person to person, but if it helps, I was an outpaitent surgery with success. Trust your surgeon, and if you don't then get a second opinion but don't let horror stories dictate your health and the future of your spine. It's a scary thing to have the back/neck operated on, but for me I'm so glad I had it done. It saved me years of pain and problems.

    I was fully fused around a year and a half, the stiffness eased after 5 or so months. Each one of us is different, and will have different healing rates and if nothing else, keep that in the forefront as you continue speaking with your doctor. Best of luck

  • crystal balls, unfortunately. That being said, insurance companies are urging doctors to get the patient home, but the doctor does have to look at each persons progress individually.

    My doctor said that most single level PLIF's go home after two nights stay. I had to stay another day because of a minor issue, but none the less...I did no go home with that issue addressed appropriately. That is the key, and am thankful that my doctor did not push me out of the hospital without doing so.

    There are no prizes for going home in 23 hours. If it is appropriate for that patient...great!!!
    You will not know until you get to each point in the "plan", whether you are going to meet those expectations or not.

    I thought that I would be ahead of the curve going in, but it kicked me good, so my advice is to see how it goes. If you have been on this or any other spine forum, you know the score. Follow doctors orders, thoroughly read the postop needs list on this forum, and just know it gets better over time.

    Don't think that you are not doing well if you do have to stay in the hospital a day or two longer, or it takes longer to drive, fly or anything else for that matter. You will have to develop a new normal and what that is, you will not know until you get there. Its your normal, not anyone elses.

    Good luck,

  • Most people with one or two level, uncomplicated surgeries are discharged same day or next day (within 23 hours doesn't count as an inpatient surgery in most cases as far as billing is concerned, at least for surgeries through a surgery center). Now, if you have a varied medical history such as diabetes, asthma, or heart disease, for example, or have had a dip in blood pressure, or didn't deal well with anesthesia, or you haven't passed gas and moved your bowels (standard requirements for discharge), or your procedure was over many levels, you may very well stay longer. If you pain isn't controlled, you may stay a day longer. It all depends. :)
  • Thanks everyone.

    I knew something was amiss on this board.

    My current pain level is less than 5 on most days, and I don't take any pain medication other than a 7.5/325 Hydro every once n a while.

    My surgeon performed my Lami/Disc at L3 L$ three years ago and my recovery was simple and not that painful. It bothered me to sit for more than 30 minutes, but i was taking transcontinental flights within 3 months.

    This ALIF procedure is 15 minutes of operative prep and exposure and less than 45 minutes of actual procedure, another 15 to close.Under 1.5 hours total.

    He expects me up and walking within 5 hours of surgery. PCA pump DC'd by the next morning, and discharge after lunch.

    He does 6 procedures like mine a week. He swears this isn't a big deal.

    I had a total hip replacement one year ago this week. That was four days in the hops, two days on PCA. W#walking the same day. I was totally off all narcotic pain meds in 5 weeks.

    In my book the THR is the tougher procedure. The surgery is an hour longer, and they remove a large section of your femur.

    I can take a little pain...but If you guys are still taking narcotics 6 months after surgery, you wasted your time.

    L3-L4 Laminectomy micro-discectomy 2008
    ALIF L5-S1 2012
    Facet Joint Ablation L2 to S1 2012
    Facet Joint Ablation. L2 to S1 2015
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